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TSSA Response - Interim Report Into Margam Deaths

1 October 2019

TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, has issued a warning about rail safety and leadership after an initial report into the deaths of two workers who were hit by a train in July.

The Network Rail report says there was ‘no safe system in place’ when Gareth Delbridge and Michael ‘Spike’ Lewis died on 3rd July after being struck near Margam, Port Talbot.

Responding to the interim report, published on 30th September, Manuel Cortes, said:

"The report clearly demonstrates that senior management at Network Rail have failed to provide the necessary leadership and direction to ensure that those working on the track are able to do so without fear of losing their lives.

"Margam is the tip of the iceberg - we know there have been frequent near miss incidents involving track workers right across the country, both before and after Margam.

“For several years our union has warned of the weaknesses in the processes that are supposed to protect track workers. Sadly, so far, we have seen little progress in improving this situation.

"The rail safety enforcement body - the Office of Road and Rail - must also accept some responsibility; it knew of the problems but failed to take decisive action until Margam.

"Our union welcomes Network Rail's invitation to discuss how lessons can be learned, and action taken to address this issue. However, the Company needs to accept that it will require significant extra resources in the short-term if we are to see a significant early improvement in safety performance. We simply cannot wait for technological solutions that may take years to materialise.

"Our union also has serious concerns about Network Rail's reorganisation and devolution initiative (‘Putting Passengers First’) currently being implemented and its potential effects on safety management.

“Whatever future structures are put in place, they must include positions at senior level across the entirety of Network Rail with specific responsibility for ensuring effective leadership and direction is in place to drive forward a significant improvement in safety management, especially in respect of trackworker safety."

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